The always-controversial Kendrick Perkins has never been afraid to throw gasoline on the flames when it comes to discussing social issues concerning the NBA. However, the analyst turned up the heat a little too much last week with some comments he directed at two-time MVP Nikola Jokic.
The Joker has paced the Denver Nuggets (46-19) to the top record in the Western Conference and they are considered favorites to make a journey to the NBA Finals. Likewise, their star player seems poised to rake in his third straight MVP trophy.
And rightfully so. The Serbian star is currently averaging a triple-double, adding his 100th such performance this year over the weekend. Jokic is putting up 24.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 10.0 assists per game right now.
The even more stunning side of this statistic is that he’s doing it all from the center position. That was formerly unheard of in the NBA. Nikola Jokic should rightfully be christened for his excellence. But Perkins doesn’t appear to think so.
Despite Nicola Jokic’s historic numbers, Kendrick Perkins doesn’t seem to be too impressed.
Perkins played the race card, albeit with a bit of sleight of hand, when he criticized The Joker’s potential third MVP crown. He made references to former winners Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash. Perkins then said voters have ‘moved the goalposts’ for those players.
After naming those three (all Caucasian), Perkins asked ‘what do they all have in common?’, obviously referring to their skin color. He also said that Jokic is allowed to ‘pad his stats’ in order to enhance his resume.
When he was admonished by both players and media for his statements, the former NBA star expressed his opinion once again when talking to Stephen A Smith on ESPN First Take.
“If we’re going to slap box, at least allow me to be on TV to throw my jabs and my uppercuts back at you as well,” Perkins said in response to fellow former player and analyst J.J. Reddick, who defended Jokic as the legitimate MVP front-runner. “When it comes to stat-padding, J.J. should know as well that this goes on in the locker room.”
“That’s why we don’t see people throw up halfcourt shots at the end of halves, because they don’t want to mess up their three-point percentage.”
“So, let’s not act like we don’t know that this goes on. As far as guys trying to reach milestones and living in the moment.”
Perkins has continually made the inference that the NBA changes the ‘unwritten rules’ for standout white players.
He cites that the three MVP winners since 1990 who weren’t in the top ten in scoring in their honored year were white. And he returned to that point once again.
“When I come on here and ask about the criteria of what it takes to be the MVP and the goalposts moving, that’s what I’m talking about.”
He questioned, “Why do we move the goalposts for some people (to win the honor) and not others?”
Perkins was selected right out of high school (when the NBA still allowed that practice) in the 2003 Draft with the 27th pick in the first round. The 6’10” center averaged 5.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in a 16-year career, winning an NBA Championship in 2008 while a member of the Boston Celtics.
Upon retirement, he became an NBA analyst on ‘shock-jock-style’ sports shows like First Take and Get Up. However, his time as a television commentator has been marked by controversy and insensitive remarks. In particular, he seems to relish the opportunity to target prominent white players such as Jokic and fellow European star Luka Doncic.
For his part, Perkins has avoided controversy in his personal life, except for an incident in October 2013, when he allegedly punched a man and woman following a dispute over a traffic accident.